Lots of tiny seahorse babies born at Bristol Aquarium!

Behind the scenes, Bristol Aquarium has successfully bred a herd of around 70 Lined Seahorses (Hippocampus erectus); aquarists are hard at work giving these tiny babies the best possible start in life.

Following many previous achievements breeding big bellied seahorses, the team at Bristol Aquarium have branched out and bred a second species.

“The parents have been displaying to each other and taking part in courtship rituals for several weeks now,” explained aquarist Rachel Farquhar.

A Herd of Seahorse Babies

A Herd of Seahorse Babies

The seahorse is unusual in the animal kingdom in that it is the male rather than the female which carries the babies and gives birth to them via a special brood pouch on their stomach.

The female seahorse lays her eggs in the male’s pouch. He then fertilises them and incubates them until they’re ready to emerge into the great outdoors.

“With his first batch the male only gave birth to seven! The largest number we have now had so far has been around 50. The number of babies the male can have is directly proportional to his size – the bigger he is, the more he can produce,” she added.

In the wild virtually all of the approximate 35 species of seahorse are now under threat from a variety of sources. These include loss of habitat, pollution, the souvenir trade and traditional Far East medicine – believed to account for the deaths of more than 20 million seahorses annually.

The lined seahorses at the Bristol Aquarium are part of a captive-breeding programme which aims to ease the pressure on wild populations.

Bristol Aquarium hopes to put these new arrivals on display soon so visitors can see just how successful the breeding of these lined seahorses has been.

This weekend, Bristol Aquarium is celebrating Seahorse Weekend (Saturday 29th April – Monday 1st May) where visitors can learn all about these incredibly magical creatures! With extra talks, feeds and activities throughout the weekend, there is lots for the whole family to get involved with.

Bristol Aquarium is open daily from 10am and children under three go free. For more information about Seahorse Weekend please click here or call the Aquarium team on 0117 929 8929.